Julia Guzunova is a Vice President of ComboApp – Top-rated Mobile App Marketing Agency and GoWide User Acquisition Agency. She has 9+ years of experience in mobile marketing, operational management and global mobile strategy. Her specialties include strategy, business development, operational management, full-stack b2b and b2c mobile marketing expertise.
1) Julia, you have so much experience in mobile marketing – over 6 years. Even the App Store didn’t exist back then! What did mobile marketing look like when you started, and how has it evolved?
When we started ComboApp back in 2010, the word “mobile” was associated mostly with text messages and Angry Birds. It was a brave new world; we wanted to explore it and help others to do so. Each member of our team had a background in mobile products, which helped us a lot to understand the challenges of our clients had and choose the best strategies to help them.
The mobile app ecosystem has changed significantly since then, along with marketing techniques. There are more than 3 Million apps on app stores now. Marketing has integrated deeper into product development and manages it from the inside. App marketing goals have shifted from simply getting to the top of the app store charts to a complex, long-term strategy that involves market research, focus groups, mobile experience design, monetization, and creating an engaged user base.
2) What are the latest trends in the mobile marketing ecosystem?
Wearables, “Internet of Things”, connected living, and Smart TV are the most successful marketing trends at the moment. Messengers and chatbots are also reshaping the industry. These apps are becoming a platform for content distribution, micro-payments, and e-commerce. Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook Messenger are all actively explored, along with the Chinese WeChat and Japanese Line. Forbes claims: “You Can’t Spell E-Commerce Without Mobile”.
3) What is ComboApp about? Please tell us a little about yourselves and the types of clients that you represent.
We’re a global creative and analytics mobile marketing agency. Our team consists of marketing experts who have background in analytics and product marketing as well as in-depth understanding of digital, mobile and offline media. With extensive competence, we provide all services in-house and manage multi-platform, omni-channel projects.
We help brands go mobile and ensure that mobile apps effectively monetize their users. Today we work both with big brands like Intel, Seaworld, Cox Communications and vertical mobile developers like MobileSystems and VideoMedicine Inc.
4) How well do you feel within a synergetic Ad Network / Agency model, where companies can help mobile apps with not only user acquisition, but also mobile strategy, BI, mobile experience design and media relations?
It’s called the “One-Stop Shop” complex solution. We feel very comfortable with this synergy, as this is a great chance for our clients to partner with a trusted expert for their mobile product marketing. We know how to reach our client target audience in the right place and time with the most relevant message.
5) What does “success” look like for you and your customers?
Every client has their own definition of success. It depends on the app category, target audience, monetization model, and the overall goals of the company. Success can be measured by the number of installs, active users, subscriptions, in app’s generated profit, or even the scale of media coverage.
For most brands, an app works as a tool that converts users into customers, or as an additional product consumption driver (for example, the L’oreal app with make-up guides). Mobile app monetization plays a secondary role for big brands, though other app owners focus mostly on monetization.
At the same time, most of our clients of different types and sizes associate success with positive ROI.
6) Are there any vital issues your customers face? What are their main points of contention?
I would say that the variety of options is kind of an issue. Even experienced product managers and UA analytics find it hard to choose from hundreds of mobile marketing tools and solutions. For start-ups and and companies that run their first projects, this task is ten times harder. That’s why app owners and brands get help from app marketing companies that have effective in-house experts and tools.
Based on our experience, the main problem consists of three factors: user engagement, user retention, and monetization. All three are connected with each other and form the basis of each app marketing strategy.
The mobile industry itself created a major issue that a person can’t concentrate on something for more than 8.25 seconds (compared to 12 seconds in 2000). The root of this problem lies in a multi-screen consumption habit. Now our customers suffer from that too. Isn’t this ironic?
7) Regarding user engagement – many app developers and publishers complain about a low retention rate. Do you have some universal efficient strategy for user acquisition?
Retention rate is one of the most valuable metrics in terms of in-app user behaviour, so we developed an efficient two-stage user acquisition strategy:
- We analyze and predict. We start with a thorough analysis: review the client’s product (including positioning) and cherry-pick the most relevant pool of publishers. Then, we define the profile of the ideal user. The better we perform, the higher retention rate potentially we will get.
- We optimize. After the acquisition campaign is launched, our goal is to do various split-tests to gain the learnings on the best converting user demographics. After the initial test stage, we have enough data to make decisions and filter sources/targeting that deliver a solid retention rate. Our media buying team works with a portfolio of direct apps and top DSPs to give our customers the high-LTV users they want.
8) What are the most common mistakes app owners make in marketing their product?
- Utilizing only one promo method and expect it to bring positive ROI, while ignoring a more complex approach.
- Expecting quick results after an app launch. In truth, app launch is just a halfway point to success.
- Incorrect ROI calculations – looking for a low install cost, while forgetting about a K-factor and organic traffic that comes from the position in top charts.
- Belief that being ranked in Top Charts of app store guarantees a massive number of installs. In reality, the number of installs app needed get to the Top Chart exceed the number of installs app owner gets afterwards.
- Underestimating ASO, especially app store landing page optimization. A better landing page conversion significantly decreases marketing costs for promotion.
- The lack of a new, original core idea. Despite the competition of 3 MIO apps on app stores, the market wants more innovative products. Successful apps like MSQRD prove this theory. Apple will feature your app if it’s really worth it.
9) What’s the best advice you usually give your customers for successful App Promotion? And for your team? Share а few.
- Develop a product with an end user in mind. You should know your customer needs by heart, and give them what they want with your mobile app.
- Make decisions based on specific information/analytics, not on a single person’s opinion.
- Your business goals should coincide with available resources that you can use to reach them.
- Work with professionals and trust them. They are here to help.
10) What are your company’s biggest achievements so far, and what are the plans for 2016?
The year of 2015 was very productive one for us. We have enhanced our services with deepened expertise in UI/UX Consulting, including Usability Testing, User Journey Mapping, and Onboarding Development. We have developed an in-house UA fraud detector to deliver even more qualitative and converting traffic to our customers. At the same time, our Consulting department started a close cooperation effort with the healthcare industry on a global scale.
In 2016 we plan to launch our own monetization platform, as well as start dealing with Apple Watch and Google Wear user traffic. We are also working on effective marketing solutions for IoT vertical.
11) What is the most useful app you’ve ever downloaded?
I need to confess, I’m pretty conservative when it comes to smartphone apps. I choose useful products: Facebook for fun and communication, Linkedin for work, and Pokerist to rest my brains.
12) Is there a “dream gadget” (existing or not yet) that you’d gladly used in your everyday life?
I dream about two gadgets I saw on Mobile World Congress this year: RoBoHoN, a Japanese robot phone, and a tiny, smart projector by Sony. It looks cool and reminds me of the movie Minority Report.